If you’ve suffered a serious injury or become disabled, it can be very frightening to realize you can no longer work. You and your family depend on that paycheck, and without it, you worry about how you’ll pay for your rent or mortgage, food, bills, and other necessities.
Thankfully, the government provides a lifeline in the form of Social Security disability benefits. Applying for benefits can feel overwhelming, however, and it’s possible the Social Security Administration could deny your claim. Below, learn more about claiming benefits from our Bronx Social Security disability lawyers. And if the SSA has sent you a denial letter, find out how our Social Security disability lawyers in the Bronx, New York, can help.
Social Security disability provides cash benefits to people who are so ill or disabled that they can’t work. The SSA offers two kinds of benefits programs to people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”).
Which program you apply for depends on your age, work history, income, and disability. SSDI is similar to an insurance program for disabled people. Through paycheck deductions, employees pay for the program with their Social Security taxes.
That means if you haven’t paid into the program long enough, you won’t qualify for SSDI. To determine eligibility, the SSA will count the work credits you’ve earned over your lifetime. It’s possible to earn up to four credits per year. You’ll usually need about 40 credits, but the younger you are, the fewer you’ll need.
You must also have a disability that prevents you from doing any type of job, and that disability must last for at least a year. If you qualify, the SSA will pay you a percentage of your average monthly earnings.
One perk of SSDI is that the amount of money or resources you have doesn’t matter. As long as you meet the requirements, you can qualify for benefits.
SSI, on the other hand, puts a cap on the income and resources you’re allowed to have. Individuals can own no more than $2,000 of cash and resources, such as investments and real estate (excluding your primary home). For couples, the limit increases to $3,000. Exceptions include household goods, personal care items, wedding rings, business equipment, one vehicle, and burial plots.
To qualify, you must be either 65 years or older, blind, or disabled. The disability must last for at least one year or lead to death.
The SSA limits how much you can earn from SSI. In 2023, individuals can earn a maximum of $914 per month, while the cap for couples is $1,372. These amounts will increase slightly in 2024.
Unlike SSDI, you don’t need a work history to claim SSI benefits. That means you can qualify even if you’ve never worked a day in your life.
The SSA maintains a list of medical conditions that qualify for benefits. Some of these conditions include:
If your disability doesn’t completely match any of those on the list, the SSA will consider whether it is comparable to any qualifying conditions.
The fastest way to apply for Social Security disability benefits is to do so online. You can use the online application if you’re at least 18 years old and the SSA hasn’t denied you benefits in the past 60 days.
To apply, first print and review the Adult Disability Checklist, which describes the information you’ll need to gather for your application.
Next, complete the Disability Benefit Application and sign the Medical Release Form. When you’re done, a Social Security agent will schedule an appointment to help you complete the final steps of your application. Expect the agent to reach out within seven to 14 days.
The SSA denies claims for all kinds of reasons, and it’s very common to end up with a denial the first time you apply for benefits. However, the SSA approves many people who were originally denied after they filed an appeal. Of course, approval hinges on why the SSA denied you in the first place.
Typical reasons for denials include:
Several of the above reasons for denial are fairly easy to appeal, while others are not. For instance, if you forgot to include evidence of your disability with your application, that’s simple to correct. But if you applied for SSI, and the SSA says you have too much money, this is more difficult to resolve.
In the latter case, you could become eligible by “spending down” your resources. To do so, some people pay off their debts, buy a home, or pre-pay for burial and funeral expenses. Others spend money on home modifications, such as wheelchair ramps and modified bathrooms, because such modifications are exempt from the SSA’s resource counting. Other exemptions include one vehicle, personal care items, household goods, and up to $100,000 in an ABLE account.
If you missed the deadline to file an appeal, you’ll usually have to complete another application. However, it may be possible to submit a Request for Reconsideration if you have a good reason for missing the deadline.
If you haven’t applied for SSD benefits yet, now is a great time to hire a Social Security disability attorney. Your lawyer can tell you whether your condition qualifies for benefits and help complete your application to boost your chances of approval the first time around.
If the SSA denied you benefits, one of the smartest things you can do is reach out to a skilled disability lawyer with experience handling appeals. Your attorney can:
If the SSA has denied your Social Security disability claim or you’d like to know more about what conditions qualify for Social Security disability benefits, we invite you to reach out to Pyrros, Serres & Rupwani. Our Social Security disability law firm has proudly served clients throughout New York for many years.
To speak with our Bronx Social Security disability lawyers, call (718) 626-7730.